Man cited for unlawful turn in harrowing North Portland collision

Man cited for unlawful turn in harrowing North Portland collision

Collision at N Fremont and Borthwick-5

Thankfully, this looks a lot worse than it was.
The man riding the bike was not seriously injured.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A collision yesterday at North Fremont and Borthwick has resulted in a citation for a man who turned his mini-van into the path of 26-year-old David Collins, who was cycling in the opposite direction. The collision was originally reported (to Twitter) as a possible fatality, so I immediately rode over to the scene from our downtown office to learn more. Thankfully, Collins only received minor road rash — despite he and his bike being hit and lodged underneath the mini-van.

According to Portland Police Officer Brian Hunzeker, Collins was biking east on Fremont, just before Borthwick (street view). The mini-van driver (in photo below) was headed the opposite direction on Fremont. At the intersection of Borthwick, the man driving the mini-van turned left and struck Collins and his bike with his front left bumper. When I arrived, the bike was completely underneath the van (Collins had already been taken away).

Collision at N Fremont and Borthwick-3

Collision at N Fremont and Borthwick-7

Collision at N Fremont and Borthwick-4

Officer Hunzeker taking notes while hearing from a witness.

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View of the intersection from northwest corner of Fremont and Borthwick. The man operating the red van turned left to pull in front of the gold van.
Collision at N Fremont and Borthwick-8

The driver of the mini-van was not surprisingly a bit shook up by what had happened.

Officer Hunzeker said the mini-van driver made the left-turn because he saw his friend had stalled on the corner and he was going to pull up and give him a jumpstart. “I think he got target-locked on his friend,” is how Hunzeker described it. In other words, the mini-van operator saw his friend’s van and became fixated on his destination, without first adequately checking for other people on the road in the opposing lane. Officer Hunzeker also added that witnesses said Collins slowed his bike down prior to the crash and tried to make eye contact, but it never happened and he couldn’t maneuver out of the van driver’s way.

Collins’ injuries weren’t more severe because it was a relatively low-speed collision. Hunzeker said there was another reason Collins was also able to survive without major injuries despite ending up face-to-face with the van’s undercarriage: “He’s tall and thin so I think that really benefitted him today.” If Collins were a larger man, Hunzeker predicted, he would likely have been crushed and dragged.

The mini-van driver was cited for an unlawful turn.

This just goes to show, you can never assume someone in a car sees you. Even if they are just a few feet away and going slowly, you must make sure you have eye contact, have an exit strategy planned, and/or be able to make a panic-stop at the last minute. And if you’re driving, you must always clear the intersection of other road users — whether they’re in a car or on a bike — before making a turn.

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